United States District Court, W.D. Washington
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT
Richard Creatura United States Magistrate Judge
Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c),
Fed.R.Civ.P. 73 and Local Magistrate Judge Rule MJR 13
(see also Consent to Proceed Before a United States
Magistrate Judge, Dkt. 2). This matter has been fully
briefed. See Dkt. 9, 10, 11.
physician Dr. Triet M. Nguyen, D.O diagnosed plaintiff with
major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder
(“PTSD”). See AR. 425-26.
Plaintiff's depression and PTSD appear to stem from a
history of severe abuse. See AR. 370. The
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) gave little to
no weight to Dr. Nguyen's opinion that plaintiff has an
extreme impairment in restriction of her daily activities and
maintaining social functioning, plaintiff's condition
resulted in defects of concentration, persistence, or pace,
and that plaintiff is not capable of performing past relevant
work on a regular, continuous basis. AR. 33, 426-27.
the ALJ erred in finding that Dr. Nguyen's opinion was
not consistent with his findings, the overall treatment
record, and plaintiff's activities of daily living.
Moreover, the ALJ's finding that Dr. Nguyen's report
is based largely on plaintiff's self-reports is not
supported by substantial evidence. This error is not
harmless, because a reasonable ALJ, when fully crediting Dr.
Nguyen's opinion, may have included additional
limitations in the RFC, and could have reached a different
this matter is reversed and remanded pursuant to sentence
four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for further administrative
proceedings consistent with this opinion.
LAURIE JEAN ERICKSON, was born in 1962 and was 50 years old
on the alleged date of disability onset of June 4, 2012.
See AR. 217-23, 224-29. Plaintiff has her GED, took
a secretarial word processing class and has had on-the-job
training. AR. 47. Plaintiff has office work experience. AR.
to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of
“cervical spondylosis without myelopathy;
osteoarthritis; carpal tunnel syndrome; myalgia vs
polyarthralgia vs. fibromyalgia; ulnar nerve lesion;
affective related disorder (major depressive disorder vs.
bipolar disorder); anxiety related disorder (post-traumatic
stress disorder; anxiety disorder; generalized anxiety
disorder; panic disorder); personality disorder; attention
deficit disorder; and substance abuse disorder (20 CFR
404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).” AR. 23.
time of the hearing, plaintiff was living in a modular home
with a friend. AR. 56.
applications for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423 (Title
II) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”)
benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1382(a) (Title XVI) of
the Social Security Act were denied initially and following
reconsideration. See AR. 82-94, 95-107, 110-25,
126-41. Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before ALJ
Larry Kennedy on July 23, 2015. See AR. 37-79. On
February 24, 2016, the ALJ issued a written decision in which
the ALJ concluded that plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to
the Social Security Act. See AR. 17-36.
raises the following issues: (1) Did the ALJ appropriately
weigh the opinion of the State agency consulting
psychologist; (2) Did the hypothetical question to the
vocational expert contain all of plaintiff's limitations
supported by the record; (3) Did the ALJ provide valid
reasons for giving little weight to the opinion from Richard
Washburn, Ph.D.; (4) Did the ALJ provide valid reasons for
giving little weight to the opinion from William Wilkinson,
Ed.D.; and (5) Did the ALJ provide valid reasons for giving
little weight to the opinion form treating physician Triet
Nguyen, M.D. See Dkt. 9 at 1-3.
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court may set aside the
Commissioner's denial of social security benefits if the
ALJ's findings are based on legal error or not supported
by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. Bayliss
v. Barnhart, 427 F.3d 1211, 1214 n.1 (9th Cir. 2005)
(citing Tidwell v. Apfel, 161 F.3d 599, 601 (9th
Did the ALJ provide valid reasons for giving little weight to
three medical source opinions?
alleges the ALJ erred in rejecting the opinions of her
treating physician, Dr. Triet Nguyen, D.O. Dkt. 9 at 13-16.
Defendant contends that the ALJ provided valid reasons for
giving little ...